Amidst the UCL final and another Bomb blast in Jos (RIP to the dead), I had a conversation with one of South South’s gift to the nation. This is the first of a series that will hopefully become a regular feature in the second part of the year. A chat with Edo state’s finest Producer, Michael Excel who’s dished out top beats in recent times. Read on below as Ehiscombs meets Michael Excel;
Ehiscombs: Let us into your world, who is Michael Excel?
M.E: M.E is Michael Enobakhare from Benin City, a crazy 23 yr old with music for brains.
Ehiscombs: So how long have you been producing and why production?
M.E: I got into production in my Secondary School years, in my late teen years I found this extraordinary interest in the mechanical side of music, the nuts and bolts of what I was actually hearing. I was crazy about sound manipulation and editing with the fact that I had learned piano at a young age and taught myself to play the guitar armed me for my newly discovered obsession. So professionally, 5yrs.
Ehiscombs: Your dad was/is into music, how much of an influence was he?
M.E: A big influence, there was always a musical environment around the house that sharpened my knowledge of music to learn and appreciate instruments.
Ehiscombs: You’re a graduate of Petroleum Engineering from Uniben, have you abandoned that or is production a part-time thing?
M.E: the fact I studied Pet Engineering doesn’t mean I must choose a career in that line, I’ll find a way to merge a valuable Bachelor’s degree with my passion, I don’t see music production going away, it’ll only evolve and grow.
Ehiscombs: Which producers do you look up to?
M.E: The usual suspects, something about a 90’s Timbaland beat that made me want to convulse, Kanye from the sampling angle, DJ Premier, Rick Rubin from a rock angle and from home, Don Jazzy is a beast and Cobhams.
Ehiscombs: How long does it take you to complete a beat?
M.E: It depends, Duno’s ‘ODC’ was made in less than an hour, while ‘GOT MY OWN SOUND’ was made in a few hours sometimes I know what I want and I’ll easily get it, other times its pure madness.
Ehiscombs: So what makes a M.E Production distinct?
M.E: I’m wired in a different way, sometimes the guitar might be my accomplice and I’ll do my thing with it, I also sample other peoples guitars too, I also try to be funky with the drums, a song could have four kick sounds in it just to give it more color while attimes I can be simple and just be content with a pad sound.
Ehiscombs: Give us a rundown of artistes you’ve worked with and who has been the most challenging?
M.E: Ok, there is Fame, Mofame, Griot, Attitude, Bote, the Sublym Mindz gang, Mospits and the Novena boys, Erigga, SamX, the Drug Money Gang and a host of others.
The most challenging would be Fame, we always have a lot of things we want to try and at the end of the day, we discard some ideas, Mofame is a pain in the ass too (laughter).
Ehiscombs: Most of the names mentioned are from Benin/ Environ, is the M.E Brand restricted?
M.E: I’m not restricted to the South South o, I’ve worked with Boogey, I didn’t put him on that list maybe cos he deserved to be mentioned in another breadth, also worked with lesser known people from Lagos like Jorge d best, Abuja and I have worked with Sugarboy also.
Ehiscombs: You produced Boogey and Evaezi’s collaboration ‘Burning Bush’, how did that happen?
M.E: Myself, Fame, Mo’Fame and Monemsis just got back from a show at Abraka when I got a DM on twitter and lo and behold Boogey had DM’d me that he wanted a beat. I got straight to it but what it wasn’t the kind of beat he wanted, so he explained he wanted a beat that will allow him speak, I chopped up a sample, put some drums and sounds here and there, when Boogey heard it, he went crazy, but I was crazier when he sent the completed song back to me, he and Evaezi murdered it.
Ehiscombs: Which production software do you work with?
M.E: I produce with Cubase, its kinda rare around here but it’s an essential tool for me, I work with various sampling software, I got Native instruments, Kontakt and Kore player, also do vocal editing in wavelab.
Ehiscombs: Do you work solely as a producer or as an engineer as well?
M.E: Yeah, I engineer sound too, jumped into both the same time, the knowledge of both are indispensable to me.
Ehiscombs: You produced the SSMA Awards Cypher (Edo version) and did the intro in the official video, how did they contact you and what was it like?
M.E: Well, Mo’Fame contacted me, he knew I was a qualified candidate for the job, I was familiar with almost all the artistes so I had an idea of what they would want. Sydney Shocker was meant to do the intro but he couldn’t make it to the shoot so I replaced him, it was nice to be on television.
Ehiscombs: Any plans to join the ‘Producer becoming Artistes’ or ‘dropping an album’ craze?
M.E: A few years back, I actually did drop a song titled ‘Happy Song’ ft Fame, Griot and Bote, I didn’t sing or rap on it tho, just produced. Speaking of the future, I won’t say it’s impossible.
Ehiscombs: Seeing you’ve worked with loads of people, how rich is M.E?
M.E: (Laughter), I’ll quote Lil Wayne on this one: ‘I’m richer than all y’all, I got a bank full of pride’
Ehiscombs: Any Celeb you have a crush on?
M.E: This guy sef, na wa for u o, I got a wonderful lady, that’s all the crush I need.
Ehiscombs: Final words to fellow up and coming producers?
M.E: I’ll tell them, ‘listen to your heart even though it will mislead you sometimes, it’s worth it’.
Follow Him on twitter @Michael_Excel
Now that is a WRAP, watch this space for more interesting chats with upcoming talents, they deserve to be heard.
What’s your favourite Michael Excel produced track?